Friday, February 1, 2013

An impossible interpretation of The Lord of the Rings

lord-of-the-rings-the-ringReviewers, both friendly and hostile, will dash you off such histories with great confidence; will tell you what public events had directed the author’s mind to this or that, what other authors had influenced him, what his over-all intention was, what sort of audience he principally addressed, why— and when—he did everything…. What I think I can say with certainty is that they are usually wrong. And yet they would often sound—if you didn’t know the truth—extremely convincing.
    Many reviewers said that the Ring in Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings was suggested by the atom bomb. What could be more plausible? Here is a book published when everyone was preoccupied by that sinister invention; here in the centre of the book is a weapon which it seems madness to throw away yet fatal to use. Yet in fact, the chronology of the book’s composition makes the theory impossible.

C.S. Lewis on Biblical Criticism – Part 11
C.S. Lewis, “Modern Theology and Biblical Criticism” (an essay Lewis read at Westcott House, Cambridge, on May 11, 1959). First published in Christian Reflections (1981), later published as Fern-seed and Elephants (1998). This text is taken from The Essential C.S. Lewis (Touchstone, 1996)) 355.


  1. Wow, the Ring in Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings was suggested by the atom bomb. Interesting theory!

  2. Tolkien started writing about the ring long before the Atom bomb was even known about.